For the first time in his baseball career, Cory Trudell has nowhere to go. He hopes that changes soon.
Trudell, the winning pitcher in Haysville's 7-2 win over Park City in the National Baseball Congress Midwest Regional semifinals, is close to graduating from Lindenwood University, an NAIA school in St. Charles, Mo. He has no eligibility remaining after attending five schools in four years.
Trudell doesn't want to stop playing. He's pitching for an opportunity to play professionally, a dream that had to get closer to reality after his performance on Wednesday.
In seven innings, Trudell allowed a pair of unearned runs and three hits while striking out 10. He helped the Heat advance to tonight's championship against the Derby Twins, where the winner will receive an automatic bid to the NBC World Series beginning July 30.
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"Obviously I want to get picked up by an affiliated team, but independent, yeah," Trudell said. "I definitely want to keep pitching as long as I can. I've only been pitching for two years, so my arm is fresh. I might be a little old, but my arm is fresh. I feel like I can get people out."
The 23-year-old Trudell played at four colleges and spent a semester at another. He moved around so frequently because he rarely felt he was afforded the opportunity to display his abilities.
During the first half of his college career, Trudell was a position player and he produced marginal results. He batted .244 at Gulf Coast CC before transferring to Charelston Southern, where he hit .256.
After appearing in seven games as a pitcher for Bellevue (Neb.) in 2010, Trudell moved on to Lindenwood. The move was virtually sight unseen, as Trudell only knew a few players from summer ball. Three of his Lindenwood teammates also play for the Heat.
"It was my last year of eligibility," Trudell said. "I honestly signed without even seeing the school or meeting the coach. I knew the assistant coach and I had a couple friends going there and I figured I'd sign there. It's a better place than any. Better than Omaha."
Trudell came into pitching full-time out of necessity. He injured his foot while playing for Charleston Southern and redshirted. Instead of getting surgery, Trudell began to pitch.
This season at Lindenwood, Trudell led the team in ERA and strikeouts. He missed a start in February as punishment for missing class, but on that day he had three saves as Lindenwood swept a tripleheader against LSU-Shreveport.
"I didn't even pitch in high school, so I didn't even think about pitching until my junior year of college," Trudell said. "It was all new to me, but I figured I had a good arm from shortstop and I might as well try it. I'm starting to learn some pitches and it's starting to work for me."
Trudell displayed his superior arm but not a vast repertoire of pitches on Wednesday. While throwing the occasional slider in the early innings, Trudell caught on that Park City's hitters were late against his fastball, so he stuck with his best pitch.
The simple approach worked. After the first inning, which Trudell got through in four pitches, he had at least one strikeout in every inning. He struck out the side in order in the seventh, completing his start with zero walks and 104 pitches.
"They're probably just tired because they played earlier today," Trudell said. "I just pounded fastballs and got outs today. I have other pitchers that I throw pretty good, but today, the first couple innings they were late on my fastball. I just stuck with it and ended up only throwing four or five off-speed pitches the whole game. I stuck with it and it worked."
Park City 10, Salina 6
Salina000 200 310 — 6 10 4 Park City000 040 060 — 10 10 1
Salina batting: Price 1-4, Beaird 0-5, Meyer 0-3, Sammons 3-5, Sonabend 2-4, Jackson 0-2, Caldwell 0-1, Chavez 3-4, Ralston 1-4, Monahan 0-2, Highland 0-2.
Park City batting: Pomatto 1-3, Jones 0-4, Williams 2-5, Hege 0-4, McClain 2-4, Wellman 2-4, Piper 1-3, Diaz 1-3, O'Rourke 0-0, Boyle 1-3.
Salina pitching: Freeman 4 IP-1 ER, Hahn 2 2/3-2, Thompson 0-3, Johnson 2/3-0.
Park City pitching: Martinez 6-2, Sivigliano 1-1, Hill 2-0.
Haysville 7, Park City 2
Haysville 010 200 031 — 7 15 5 Park City010 001 000 — 2 4 2
Haysville batting: Davidson 2-4, Johnson 1-4, Moore 1-4, Anderson 0-4, Moreland 2-4, Pfister 2-5, Lambert 3-3, Thibodeaux 0-1, Garcia 1-5, Tarango 3-5.
Park City batting: Pomatto 0-4, Jones 0-34, McClain 1-3, Hege 1-4, Wellman 0-4, O'Rourke 2-4, Piper 0-4, Diaz 0-2, Williams 0-2, Boyle 0-3.
Haywville pitching: Trudell 7 IP-0 ER, Kozeny 1-0, Bulliard 1-0.
Park City pitching: Williams 6-3, Pomatto 3-3.